Four days before Christmas out on the BAR U
A case of the lonesomes had hit the whole crew.
Though mostly young fellers who'd drifted out West
Plumb off from their homefolks, it must be confessed
That comin' on Christmas, them lonesomes took hold.
As the dadblasted weather turned stormy and cold.
With the trail snowed too deep for a town gallyhoot.
Their chances for Christmas cheer weren't worth a hoot.
There's be stock to tend to -- some strays like as not --
And not much for Christmas but beans in a pot.
Now family homes in them days long ago
Was scattered plum thin as old-timer's know
The feelin's 'twixt nesters and range-ridin' men
Was often plumb hostile. So here it had been
Till just before Christmas homesteader O'Toole
Took a notion that he'd put a boy on a mule
To spread the good word that on Christmas Eve night
His house would be warm, and with candles alight,
His missus and him would both welcome that crew
Of snowbounded cowhands out on the BAR U.
They said there'd be fixin's and maybe a chance
There might be some music and maybe some dance.
So the cowboys rode over in spite of the snow,
With the mercury hangin' about ten below.
Another farm family from off up the draw
Showed up in a wagon, not just pa and ma
But also three daughters. Believe it or not,
On that Christmas Eve all feuds was forgot!
And in that snug house on the drylander's claim
Five frostbitten cowhands were sure glad they came.
For the best Merry Christmas, them buckaroos found,
Is always the one where there's women around;
And if you ain't guessed it, 'twas Missus O'Toole
Who'd made the old man put that boy on a mule!
S. Omar Barker; reprinted with permission from Cowboy Miner Productions
Our S. Omar Barker poems are reprinted with the kind permission of Cowboy Miner Productions, publishers of the finest in classic and modern Cowboy Poetry. This poem is from their book Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker
Ramona's Christmas Box
Lightly, ever lightly, like the soft touch of a mother's hand
Silky snowflakes fall and envelope a sleepy, solemn land.
And the lantern-glow from windows drapes across a whitened lawn,
Framing characters in silhouette as a child in school has drawn.
Within the creaking farmhouse on this deep, December eve,
A classic play in just three acts begins its story-line to weave.
A young woman brought her daughter to this aging cowgirl's cache
To bask in the light of wisdom, and learn Ramona's Christmas past.
"Jessie-girl," said Ramona, "Lift the lid on this old trunk.
It's dusty as a July trail from bein' stored beneath my bunk.
Peel back that Indian Blanket, lay it careful on the floor.
Why, lookie here, I ain't seen this stuff for twenty years or more."
To the blond and bashful five-year old, filled with wistful hopin'
That rusty, worn, old steamer looked like a treasure chest just opened.
Between tender, shaking fingers, with pure, child-like delight,
Ramona lifted each decoration...held it dancing, spinning bright.
"Why, this one was drawn by Billy when he was in the second grade.
We was poor back then and all we had were things that were home-made.
This quilted ball, this wooden horse carved from a block of pine.
These shiny beads sewn on flannel. Oh my! They sure look fine."
"Pa saved these silvery metal strips and twisted them several times.
They looked like sparkly icicles and rang like tinkling chimes.
A garland made from buck-brush leaves that grew out on the ranch.
And, I sewed this little angel to place up on the tip-top branch."
An old trunk full of memories that had been avoided many years.
Because of sadness it inspired, yet joy burst forth through the tears.
Jessie's mom brought in a tall blue spruce, as though it had been ordained
To be the precious symbol of a hurting heart reclaimed.
Each glittering, glistening ornament reflected in the youngster's eyes
Told Ramona, in the truest sense, that Christmas never dies.
Amidst songs and gleeful laughter, adorned with living history,
On a snowy winter's gloaming, stood Ramona's finest Christmas tree.
© 2001, Virginia Bennett
Read more of Honored Guest Virginia Bennett's poetry here.
A skit for young people by Yvonne Hollenbeck
Beginning scene: A bunk-house in Texas where the cowboys, John, Dave, Chuck
and Sam are tormenting poor old Cooper.
JOHN: You are so stupid Cooper!
DAVE: Ya' Cooper. You can't even rope a stump, let alone a cow.
CHUCK: Rope! Heck, you can't even ride a stick horse.
SAM: Ah, come on boys. At least he can milk a cow so we don't have to.
JOHN: But that's woman's work!
DAVE: You need to be rough and tough to be a cowboy in Texas, Cooper.
CHUCK: He'll never be rough and tough like us guys!
COOPER: Maybe you guys would be happy if I just left.
SAM: You'd never get along without us.
JOHN (to Cooper): What would you do?
CHUCK: Probably milk cows!
(They all laugh and poke fun at poor Cooper)
COOPER: I could train horses.
(They all laugh some more)
JOHN: Where at - on a Merry Go Round?
(They laugh some more)
COOPER: (Disgusted) I can train horses better than any of you. I'll bet I could even train horses to fly.
(They really laugh)
CHUCK (to Cooper): We'll before you get too important, you'd better milk Old Bess.
SAM: Ya'. Get out of here.
(Poor old Cooper leaves, looking sad and rejected. When he leaves, they start talking again)
JOHN: We probably should be nicer to Cooper. Christmas is coming you know, and he is the only one with any money to buy presents.
DAVE: Well, that's just 'cause he don't drink and gamble like us real cowboys do.
CHUCK: Ya'. He's always saving his money like a sissy.
SAM: I sure need a new rope too.
JOHN: And I need some spurs.
DAVE: I need a new hat.
CHUCK: And I could sure use some chaps.
SAM: I think we'd better start being nicer to Cooper.
(Just then Cooper comes in with the bucket from milking the cow. Sets it down. He still looks kinda sad)
COOPER: While I was milking I decided to quit.
ALL TOGETHER: QUIT!
COOPER: Yes. You guys will get along better without me. I just don't fit in and I'll probably never make a good hand on this outfit.
JOHN: When are you leaving?
COOPER: Right now.
DAVE: You can't leave now. It's getting dark.
CHUCK: (Trying to be nice) You could wait and think it over.
COOPER: No. I've leaving right now.
(He walks forward and sings:) (to the tune of "I'm Gonna Leave Ol' Texas Now)
I'm going to leave - old Texas now; (echo: repeat)
they'll get along - I know somehow. " "
I'm going up North - to the cold and snow; " "
where they say the folks - are nice to know. " "
I'll saddle up - my trusty horse " "
and he will know - the way, of course. " "
I hope I'll find - a friend or two " "
and any job - will pro'bly do. " "
SCENE: The Bunk House
JOHN: Now look what you guys done!
DAVE: What do you mean, us guys! You are the one that ran him off.
CHUCK: Now we'll have to milk the cow.
SAM: I'm not going to. I'm too good of a cowboy to milk cows!
JOHN, DAVE & CHUCK: I'm not milking!
SAM: Now we won't get any presents for Christmas either. He was our only chance.
JOHN: Well, maybe Santa will bring 'em.
DAVE: We're too old.
CHUCK: We haven't been very good either.
SAM (concerned): I wonder where he is.
DAVE (sadly): I sorta miss Cooper.
SAM, CHUCK & JOHN: Me too!
CURTAIN REMAINS CLOSED WHILE THE BOYS AT THE BUNKHOUSE TALK:
JOHN: I wonder where Cooper ended up.
DAVE: Ya, it's been a long time and we haven't heard from him.
CHUCK: I hope he's OK.
SAM: I kinda miss him.
Cooper steps in front of curtain and starts to sing: (to the same tune "I'm Gonna Leave Ol' Texas Now)
Well here I am - in a strange cold land (others sing echo)
where I hear there's work - for an old cowhand.
I see a house - I'll guess I'll knock
I see a barn - and a great big shop.
I hope they're home - I can't go on
I'm tired and cold - and my money's gone.
THE CURTAIN OPENS: (THE SCENE IS SANTA'S HOUSE)
Cooper knocks on door.
SANTA: Who could that be at this late hour?
MRS. SANTA: I don't know, but we'd better find out. It's awfully cold and stormy for someone to be out on a night like this.
SANTA (opens door): Well hello fellow. What brings you out on a night like this?
COOPER: I'm lost and I'm looking for work.
SANTA: Work! You come to the right place.
MRS SANTA: Are you hungry? I have some hot soup if you'd like some!
COOPER: Oh that would be wonderful. I'm very hungry.
MRS SANTA: Well come here, dear. Take of your coat and come sit down.
(she fixes him a place to eat at the table)
SANTA: Where did you come from?
COOPER: I was a ranch hand in Texas.
SANTA: A ranch hand? Do you know how to train horses?
COOPER: Sorta. Do you have horses?
SANTA: Not exactly. (ho ho ho) But they're kinda like horses, only smaller. They're called "reindeer." Can you drive a team?
COOPER: Oh yes. I like to drive horses.
SANTA: Then you're my man. Tomorrow night is Christmas and I need someone
who can help me drive my team of reindeer and help me deliver presents all over the world.
COOPER: Do you even go to Texas?
SANTA: (ho ho ho) Oh yes, that's one of my biggest stops. Do you think I could hire you?
COOPER: You bet!
MRS SANTA: You'll have to meet our elves. They make all the toys. They will like you.
COOPER: You think they will?
MRS. SANTA: Oh yes. They will like having someone like you to help them.
SANTA: Well, we'd better get to bed and get a good night's rest. Tomorrow is the big day and we have lots of work to do to get ready.
COOPER: Thank you so much. I know I'm going to like it here.
MRS SANTA: I'll show you to your room, Cooper. Come with me.
(They leave) THE CURTAIN CLOSES.
(BACK AT THE BUNK HOUSE)
There's a Christmas Tree and under it are presents! John, Dave, Chuck and Sam wake up from their bedrolls. They are so surprised to see the tree and presents.
JOHN: Look at that tree! How did it get there?
DAVE: And look at the presents!
CHUCK: Where did they come from?
SAM: I don't know but something weird is going on here.
JOHN: You know I had a strange dream last night!
DAVE, CHUCK, SAM, together: ME TOO!
SAM: What was your dream about?
JOHN: I dreamt that I saw Cooper last night - and he was with Santa Claus.
DAVE: I had the same dream. And he was driving a buggy with 8 funny lookin' little horses and they flew through the air pulling that buggy up in the sky!
CHUCK: You aren't going to believe this but I had the same dream. And there were bells! I heard bells!
SAM: I dreamed about Cooper last night. He was here in the bunkhouse and had a big sack and it had something in it but I didn't know what it was.
JOHN: But why would Cooper be with Santa?
DAVE: And why would they bring us presents?
CHUCK: Especially after we were so mean to him.
SAM: Well, I'm beginning to think Cooper was a better hand than any of us guys will ever be.
CHUCK: You don't suppose he trained those horses to fly, do you?
JOHN: I don't know, but I'm never going to be mean to anyone again.
CHUCK, SAM & DAVE: (together) ME NEITHER!
JOHN: Let's open our presents:
(They tear into their presents)
SAM: Look! A new rope!
JOHN: And I got spurs!
DAVE: WOW! Look at this hat!
CHUCK: Man oh man! Chaps - just like I wanted!
SAM: How did Santa know what we wanted?
JOHN: You don't suppose!
DAVE: Do you suppose we weren't really dreaming?
CHUCK: I don't know - but Merry Christmas!
SAM, JOHN & DAVE: MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Yvonne Hollenbeck writes: This skit was done by the Beaver Creek School children at their annual Christmas program in December of 2002. There were only 6 students, so one played the part of Mrs. Santa Claus too. Although I do not have a teaching degree, I was hired by the Tripp County School System to act as a music teacher for the two remaining rural schools which are located in the Southern part of the county where I live. Because none of the teachers had any music background, I took over the reins of that department.
Because these students all live on area ranches, and it was their desire to
have a "Cowboy" type skit, I had to write one for them as there were none to be found anywhere that seemed to fill the bill. Each student picked out
which part they wanted to play and did an excellent job.
The Christmas Program was held at the Clearfield Community Hall because it
has much more room than their little one-room school, and has a kitchen,
"indoor bathrooms," and a stage complete with sound system. There was an
afternoon matinee performance, and then the big one at night. The hall was
filled to the brim and everyone loved the songs, poems, and mostly this
skit. Afterwards, lunch was served by the mothers and grandmothers, and
probably the highlight for me was when the County Superintendent of Schools told me it was the best program she had ever attended and loved the skit. She didn't offer to raise my wages, but it did raise my ego a little.
I have another skit where some mean old rustlers stole Santa's sack of gifts. All the skits have a moral and the good guys always win, and usually turn the bad guys around in the end.
Read Honored Guest Yvonne Hollenbeck's poetry here.
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